Margaret River winemakers are to hold an emergency meeting in response to threatened legal action against Flametree Wines by LVMH-owned Cape Mentelle over use of the Wallcliffe name on wine labels.
Cape Mentelle’s Wallcliffe vineyard
Several winemakers in the Western Australian region are concerned about the impacts of potential legal action. Wallcliffe has been mapped as a sub-region in Margaret River, but is not yet legally recognised as such.
Cape Mentelle, which is owned by French billionaire Bernard Arnault’s LVMH group, has a trademark application pending on Wallcliffe as a standalone name, and its lawyers have asked Flametree Wines to stop using the term.
Flametree general manager Cliff Royle said Dr John Gladstones’ sub-regional map of Margaret River, completed in 1999, gave local producers a precedent to use Wallcliffe on its labels when referring to the source of the fruit for its wines.
‘We have identified the sub-regional origin of our fruit and have not intended to infringe on what Cape Mentelle considers is its intellectual property. Cape Mentelle believes that Wallcliffe is a brand, but it is a geographical place and a name that has been in general use since the 1800s.’
But, Cape Mentelle general manager Rob Mann said that further definition of boundaries and sub-regional titles is required.
‘We have no agreed boundaries, names or registered Geographical Indicators for sub-regions within Margaret River and any reference to them is not formally recognised or controlled.
In 1999, Cape Mentelle successfully trademarked Wallcliffe Winery, Wallcliffe Vineyard and Wallcliffe Estate.
‘A couple of wineries have used the term Wallcliffe prominently on the front label of their wines and this is what we object to as infringing on our established brand and trademark. We have been labelling wines as Wallcliffe from the 1999 vintage and are simply protecting our brand,’ Mann said.
Written by Danielle Costley